Last year I wrote a blog post that struck a chord with many MSP Biz Man readers. Three Really Easy Ways to Reduce the Costs of Supporting Your MSP Clients offered up some common sense advice for becoming efficient when servicing clients.
There’s a fourth way to keep support costs down though, and that’s to make sure you and your technicians take the right equipment to site first time, every time.
As a former IT Technician, I know all to well the frustration of visiting a client site for a support call and then realizing you don’t have the correct equipment with you.
That missing piece of equipment can be as simple as a length of Ethernet cable, a USB Hub, or even the right type of screwdriver. You need it to get the job done, and without it you’re facing either a time consuming trip back to the office, or an expensive trip to the local Fry's or PC World.
As the former owner of an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP), these frustrations take on a new level. Every time one of my engineers visited a client site without the correct equipment on hand, and then had to make an emergency equipment gathering trip, I saw dollar signs - watching profit fall away as I paid a Technician to act as an equipment gopher rather than a qualified Professional.
The way to address this problem is to issue all your Technicians, including yourself if necessary, with a Technicians Kit box.
The kit box contains a number of items that most Technicians will need during a working year - everything from frequently used replacement cables to office supplies.
For myself as a Technician (and later as an MSP owner, the box I provided to my employees) the kit box was in reality two separate boxes - one that I carried with me into the client site containing frequently used tools and equipment, the other that sat in the boot of my car filled ready with emergency supplies. For the purposes of this article we’ll refer to a single kit box.
The tools in the Kit box were:-
I always used to carry a Swiss Army knife too, for a belt and suspenders approach.
You might think some of that technology in that kit box is very dated. Who on earth still needs to use a Floppy Disk drive, or a PS/2 Keyboard?
Working in the SMB space, experience tells me that the first time you come across an incredibly aging server that SHOULD boot from USB Key Disk, but doesn’t, or SHOULD support a USB keyboard at BIOS level, but doesn’t, is when you’ll appreciate these tools.
Likewise, being able to burn drivers to CD-R when that workstation recovery boot disk won’t recognize the PC’s USB drivers is a blessing.
Some of this equipment is actually best duplicated at client sites as well as your Technician kit box. Storing a box in your clients comms room containing a basic Ethernet switch and cables, CD cases and spare keyboards and mice means that an “emergency” call from a client can often see you redirect them to the comms room kit box instead - just remember to raise a ticket to refresh the kit box the next time you’re on-site.
The challenge with issuing your Technicians with a kit box is, invariably, they’ll lose kit/lend kit/give kit to clients and then you’re back to square one when the Technician next visits a client site and needs the kit he’s given away/lost.
Therefore, ask your Technicians to sign off for the contents of their kit box in the same way you’d ask them to sign-off on a company laptop, smartphone or any other equipment.
The upfront cost of providing Technicians with a kit box soon pales in comparison to the cost of highly paid Technicians running back and forth between client sites and sitting in traffic as they try to source the equipment they need to get "small” jobs done.
By empowering your Technicians with kit boxes, and making them responsible for them, you can lower your MSP business cost of support and make sure your clients get issues resolved quickly.
As the former owner of an award winning IT Managed Service Provider, Richard Tubb works with MSPs to help them increase sales, take on employees and build up relationships with key industry contacts. You don't have to do it alone any more - contact Richard and have a chat about your needs and how he can help you.